Wishing things were different in the past is just a well-dressed regret, but it sounds so much nicer so I'm going to stick with that.
I wish I could have seen you as a baby, those who did say you were adorable. There aren't even any pictures of you before you're full grown, which I can hardly believe, as many pictures as I've taken of you in the past nine months.
I wish I had started riding long ago, but I know it came along at just the right time, when I was listlessly floating in a sea of grief and failure. Thankfully I had some natural talent for it, or at least was told that and believed it, as my fragile state at the time would have cracked and crumbled if I didn't feel some success right away.
I wish your original owner hadn't treated you like a trophy, buying you expensive tack but spending very little time either on the ground or in the saddle.
I wish they hadn't waited 3 years to decide to give you back to the farm, as in that time you were idle and lonely. Yes, you were fed and turned out and shod and vaccinated, but without a job to do and without a special person to bond with.
I wish I had been better prepared at the moment when our lives intertwined. The extent of my riding history was a handful of trail rides in the last 20 years and six months of mostly regular lessons at the farm. I am still completely humbled and flabbergasted at the idea that my name even came up as a potential new owner for you when it became clear it was too expensive for the farm to keep you without any board coming in. You were the last baby of the farm's breeding legacy and it was absolutely out of the question that you leave the property. That day when Willow cautiously told me the story and asked if I wanted you as my own, I turned into an internally squealing 12 year-old -- Look at the pretty horsey! Then I watched you on the lunge line, the big floating trot gliding you around the ring, the correct lead every time on the bright canter and I thought, Jesus, this is a lot of horse for me. When you put green and green together you just get a deeper shade of green. But Willow promised to help us, and she has, she's so patient and I can see that she loves you, which counts for a lot.
I wish you didn't have so much pain; that's what is heartbreaking, to know that there is little I can do to help you other than follow the vet's suggestions.
I wish I could articulate the joy I feel just being near you. That soft nicker you make when I come around the corner of the barn and call your name -- Missy-mare -- and you rush over to the fence to greet me. The simple pleasure of sitting on the grass at your feet while you graze, you stepping carefully around me and nuzzling me gently to move over, as the best grass is always the grass I'm sitting on. The way your thick mane flops over half-way down your neck no matter how much I work on getting it to lay on the right side. The way you pick up your front feet at the walk, prancing proudly next to me even if we're just heading to the wash rack. The way your ears look like a mule's when I'm sitting on your back. How my body seems to fit with your's just right, like you're a shiny brown chesterfield.
While it has been difficult to get started on your back only to have long stretches where you need to rest and heal, I'm not ready to give up on you. We're partners, you and me, and when I look in your deep brown eyes I know you feel the same way.
Epilogue: I am grateful for all the advice that you all gave, and I want to make it clear the giddy 12 year-old did not make this decision. This horse was born and has spent her entire life at this farm, being looked after by the same staff and the same vets, so her entire history is known. There is no reason to believe she has any unknown underlying long-term problems, other than the cracked coffin bone. After 3 years idle, she's been under saddle barely 6 months, and we've done more work with her in that time than the previous owner did in the first 4 years of her life. D and I still want to get a horse more suited to a beginner so he can ride if he wants and I can always be assured of a mount (well, there's no guarantee that you'll always have a horse to ride, no matter how many horses you have, but you know what I mean). We'll keep assessing her as we go along, but we have just begun.
P.S. I made myself cry writing this post!